The CHIPS and Science Act will direct approximately US$67 billion toward accelerating the growth of clean energy and zero-carbon technologies in America.

On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden signed into law one of the most significant investments in climate change the country has ever undertaken after Congress passed the US$280 billion package to boost the semiconductor industry and fund scientific research.

The main focus of the CHIP and Science Act is to increase the domestic production of semiconductors. Today, the US produces about 10% of the world’s supply, with about 75% of global production relying on East Asia. Now, the hundreds of billions in investments unlocked by the bill “will ensure US leadership in the technology that forms the foundation of everything from automobiles to household appliances to defence systems.” – a White House statement reads.

That being said, the CHIPS Act also sets aside roughly $67 billion that will be used to fund scientific research necessary to fight climate change, including nanotechnology, clean energy, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence, as well as disaster-resilience research. It will also accelerate the growth of zero-carbon technology and establish a new federal office to organise clean-energy innovation.

As The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer explains, the CHIPS Act is “one of the largest climate bills ever passed by Congress”, exceeding the total amount of money the government invested in renewable energy tax credits from 2005 to 2019. 

The Act came just hours after US Senate voted on a landmark tax-and-spend bill, a surprise deal that Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrat Senator Joe Manchin struck last week. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which Manchin initially refused to support citing inflation concerns, includes the largest climate investment in the country’s history, with $369 billion of spending on clean energy.

While the IRA will lead to an immediate reduction of carbon pollution, bringing the country one step closer to achieving its 2030 emission target, the CHIPS Act will focus on investing money in the development of technology necessary to reach the country’s climate goals.

These two landmark bills, coupled with last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, are set to “more than triple the federal government’s average annual spending on climate and clean energy this decade”, equivalent to more than $521 billion  – Lachlan Carey from the nonpartisan energy think tank RMI told The Atlantic.

CHIPS act

Image 1: US climate spending, 1990-2029

Featured Image: Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz (Flickr)

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